Tyrrell Hatton stands on the verge of joining a special club. The 26-year-old Englishman can emulate Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo if he wins the $5 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews on Sunday.
Hatton takes a one-shot lead into the final round over Australia’s Marcus Fraser after returning a 6-under 66 over the Old Course to move to 14 under. Ryder Cup teammate Tommy Fleetwood is two shots behind in a tie for third place with Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, the 2014 winner.
Els, Woods and Faldo have all won the same tournament three years in a row. Faldo was Irish Open champion for three straight years between 1991-93. Els won the Heineken Classic between 2002-04, while Woods has won the same tournament three years in a row on the European Tour twice (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, 1999-01 and 2005-07).
“I’m certainly going to go out there tomorrow and give it my best,” Hatton said. “To join that club would be so special.”
Hatton went to the turn in 31 strokes, 5 under, thanks to eagles at the par-5 5th hole and driveable par-4 9th. He came back in 1-under 35.
“It was nice to shoot a decent score. Front nine, although I was 5 under, felt quite difficult. It was pretty cold this morning and I was struggling to warm up. I hit a few loose shots, got away with a couple, which was nice, and then holed a couple of putts. Felt like I could have scored better on the back nine but hit a few loose shots again.”
“We’re in a good position going into the final day and that’s all we can ask for.”
Gallacher matched Hatton’s 66, while Fleetwood was one shot worse on 67. Fleetwood had a chance to take the lead into the final round. He played the first 12 holes in 7 under to reach 15 under, but recorded consecutive bogeys at 16 and 17.
Fleetwood has some unfinished business to settle. He was second to Oliver Wilson in 2014, and also has two fifth-place finishes.
Brooks Koepka shot a 7-under 65 around the Old Course to move to 9 under in a tie for seventh. Ryder Cup teammate Tony Finau could only manage a 71, and is in joint 20th alongside U.S. Ryder Cup vice-captain Matt Kuchar, and European vice-captain Padraig Harrington.